Work From Home – Fun With Telemarketers

During the time I have spent working at home, I have encountered many telemarketers. That’s how I found out about their radar: when I went out to work telemarketers always rang in the evening while I was trying to cook or eat dinner, now they ring during the day when I am trying to work at home.

A joke that arrived in my email made me realise that I am not alone in being less than fond of telemarketers. (In fact, they are on my list right up with lawyers and estate agents.) I’ll be sharing a few tips from this joke with you throughout this article but, if you want to read all 20 of them, you can see them at my website on the same page as this article.

I can usually identify telemarketers immediately because they will almost inevitably open with “Good morning, madam. How are you today?” Nobody but a telemarketer would dream of ringing a person and addressing her as “madam”. Presumably that is a marketing technique which is supposed to give the illusion that you are the customer and the telemarketer is there to serve you but it just gives me the idea that I should have let the answering machine pick up this call. The tip for circumventing the whole thing is:- As soon as you realize it is a Telemarketer, scream “Oh my God!” and then hang up.

It took me quite a while to get to grips with the constant annoyance of telemarketing calls. I was brought up to be polite but I eventually discovered it is impossible to get rid of telemarketers without resorting to rudeness. I don’t ask these people to ring me up and try to sell me things I don’t want: everything from jigsaw puzzles and books, through lingerie and cinema tickets to health insurance and mobility aids. As I (thankfully) am and always have been fully mobile, I don’t understand the reason for the last one.

Actually, the telemarketer who was offering mobility aids was a great example of a bad telemarketer. His opening gambit was “Good morning, madam. I’m from XYZ Company, I expect you’ve heard of us?” When I replied “No.” his response was a grumpy-sounding “I can’t think why not”. So, did he ring just to point out that I’m ignorant? When he hurried on with his script and asked me if I have any difficulty getting in or out of the house, I was tempted to reply “Only when I’m drunk” but I managed to bite my lip on that one: “no” is definitely the only safe word to use when dealing with telemarketers.

A better way of dealing with this type of call is the following tip:- If they say they’re John Doe from XYZ Company, ask them to spell their name. Then ask them to spell the company name. Then ask them where it is located, how long it has been in business, how many people work there, how they got into this line of work if they are married, how many kids they have, etc. Continue asking them personal questions or questions about their company for as long as necessary.

Alternatively try this tip:- Tell them you are hard of hearing and that they need to speak up . . . louder . . . louder . . .

The telemarketers for mobile phone companies are the thickest skinned and most persistent variety of the species I have encountered so far. They also tend to have the strongest accents and I feel mean giving them a hard time when they are at a disadvantage to begin with. I always used to answer their questions in the hope that they would realise that I was not a good prospect for mobile phone upgrades. When I asked the last mobile phone telemarketer why he thought I might want to give up my virtually free phone deal and pay for line rental, he just started over with his script listing the number of free minutes of air time they would “give” me. The fact that I would not use the air time seemed to make no difference, there was nothing about that in his script and I had to resort to abrupt termination of the call.

Next time I’ll try this tip:- Tell the Telemarketer you are busy at the moment and ask him/her if he/she will give you his/her home phone number so you can call him/her back. When the Telemarketer explains that telemarketers cannot give out their home numbers say, “I guess you don’t want anyone bothering you at home, right?” The Telemarketer will agree and you say, “Me either!” Hang up.

The telemarketer who wanted me to switch to a new power supplier taught me a lot about the telemarketing profession. The power supply marketers who turn up on my doorstep, accost me in the supermarket or telephone me, usually baffle me with figures, blind me with science and leave me feeling I should sign up with them immediately. The last one to phone me happened to ring while I was in my office at home and I had my power bills to hand. The telemarketer asked me how much I paid each month to my power supplier and then assured me that he could save me 30% on my bills. I was impressed and asked how he calculated that figure. He informed me that he had a “chart”. In an effort to finally understand the mysteries of calculating these savings, I asked the telemarketer to give me an exact breakdown of the amount his company would charge for my most recent electricity bill. He said he couldn’t because he was not good at maths. As he had given me the price per unit, I found it pretty easy to calculate for myself but I couldn’t understand why the cost came out higher when he had said his company charged 30% less. I’d barely managed to ask for an explanation when he hung up. This particular telemarketer taught me that telemarketers will tell you anything their script requires even if they don’t understand it or know it is a complete lie.

This tip might help:- Tell them to talk very slowly, because you want to write every word down. Alternatively this might work:- Insist that the caller is really your buddy Leon, playing a joke. “Come on, Leon, cut it out! Seriously, Leon, how’s your momma?”

Telemarketers should be treated like children at bedtime: use a firm tone when saying “no” and do not be drawn into conversation. I have tried ignoring the “How are you today” but that just means they launch straight into the script. Next time I am going to try “I’m so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems. My arthritis is acting up, my eyelashes are sore, my dog just died . . . ”

I’ve tried asking pointedly: “What do you actually want?” but the reply was “I want to try to save you money” (how kind considering we are perfect strangers). If only I’d received the telemarketer joke before this I would have said “I just filed for bankruptcy and I could sure use some money”.

I’ve also tried “Are you selling something?” but they never fall into the trap of answering that one. For days when I’m not busy and fancy a little fun, I’m keeping a crossword puzzle on my desk. I’ll ask every telemarketer who calls to help me solve some clues. I’ve made out a score card for me -v- telemarketers and I give myself double points each time I can force a telemarketer to hang up.

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